Saturday, May 21, 2016

Falling Triangles


Falling Triangles, 2016
(Based on Goeritz's “Torres Piramidales”)
Concrete, wood 
30 x 9 x 23 cm

Torres piramidales

Mathias Goeritz, Torres piramidales (maqueta), c.1965-70

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Energy Policy and the Electrification of the Whole Country.



Amir Gadzhiev, illustration for a children's book, Gouache, ink, watercolor and whitewash on paper 20.5 x 17 cm, 1930.

modular modules mode


Short Life, Some Accommodation, 2013-15
Wood, plaster, acrylic, oil, pencil, dried leaves
60 x 70 x 42 cm

Ο επιμελητής της έκθεσης Αλέξιος Παπαζαχαρίας αναφέρει:
Η Ιωάννα Σπητέρη–Βεροπούλου γεννήθηκε, έζησε και εργάστηκε στη Βενετία, το Παρίσι και την Αθήνα. Υπήρξε σύζυγος του Τώνη Σπητέρη, ενός από τους πλέον σημαντικούς τεχνοκριτικούς διεθνώς. Σε μια αδιάκοπη καλλιτεχνική πορεία που θα διαρκέσει σχεδόν πενήντα χρόνια (μέχρι το θάνατό της το 2000 στην Αθήνα) η Ιωάννα Σπητέρη-Βεροπούλου θα συμμετάσχει σε διεθνείς διοργανώσεις και θα αποσπάσει σημαντικές διακρίσεις, όπως στην Μπιενάλε του Σάο Πάουλο στη Βραζιλία το 1963 στην οποία το έργο της τιμήθηκε με το β' βραβείο γλυπτικής και θα εκθέσει κυρίως στην Ευρώπη δίπλα σε σπουδαίους καλλιτέχνες όπως ο Emilio Vedova και ο Fritz Wotruba. Η καλλιτεχνική της γραφή ιδιότυπη και σε συνεχή διάλογο με τις διεθνείς καλλιτεχνικές τάσεις θα διαμορφωθεί από την προσεκτική μελέτη του αφηρημένου εξπρεσιονισμού, τάση την οποία θα ακολουθήσει μετακινώντας σταδιακά το ενδιαφέρον της από την εξπρεσιονιστική χειρονομία στην αφαιρετική λογική. Από τη δεκαετία του '70 οι απλές γεωμετρικές φόρμες και οι δυναμικές συνθέσεις αυτών θα αποτελέσουν χαρακτηριστικό της γλυπτικής της. Μεγάλη σημασία θα αποκτήσει σταδιακά η σχέση του γλυπτού με τον περιβάλλοντα χώρο του: συνδέσεις, σχήματα, όγκοι, χώροι, φως, σκιές, και μεγέθη οργανώνονται από την Ιωάννα Σπητέρη-Βεροπούλου σε έργα που οι κλίμακες τους ποικίλουν από αυτό που σχεδόν χωράει σε μια χούφτα, έως αυτό που θα σταθεί σε εξωτερικό χώρο με διαστάσεις μνημείου αλλά διάθεση λιγότερο μνημειακή και περισσότερο ρυθμική, μουσική, οργανωτική και αφηγηματική· όχι σε σχέση με την ιστορία αλλά σε σχέση με το τι σημαίνει μοντέρνα γλυπτική και σύγχρονη τέχνη.
Οι οκτώ καλλιτέχνες, απ’ όσο ξέρω, ελάχιστα γνωρίζουν το έργο της Σπητέρη. Γνωρίζουν ωστόσο όλοι σίγουρα το εργαστήριο της στο 8 της οδού Κυψέλης, το μυθικό πια μικρό κτίριο του Αριστομένη Προβελέγγιου στο κέντρο της Αθήνας, έξοχο δείγμα μοντέρνας αρχιτεκτονικής. Στο εργαστήριο αυτό δούλεψε η Σπητέρη και άλλοι καλλιτέχνες, ανάμεσά τους και η Διοχάντη, με τη βοήθεια της οποίας
πραγματοποιείται η παρούσα έκθεση. Η έκθεση δεν έχει στόχο να ερευνήσει ή να αποκαλύψει συνέχειες που βασίζονται σε ευθείες γραμμές ιστορικών αξόνων, αλλά περισσότερο να δει τα έργα και τις εποχές σαν συναρμογές από αρθρώσεις και σπονδύλους όπου τα ερωτήματα περιστρέφονται περισσότερο γύρω από τη συνύπαρξη, τη συμβίωση, τη συγκατοίκηση, τη λειτουργία ή τη λειτουργικότητα και λιγότερο γύρω από καταβολές και καταγωγές, επιρροές ή συναντήσεις.
Στην έκθεση παρουσιάζονται έργα της Ιωάννας Σπητέρη - Βεροπούλου και των Αντωνάκη, Κωστή Βελώνη, Ηλία Κοέν, Ντόρα Οικονόμου, Νάνα Σαχίνη, Σοφία Σημάκη, Πέτρο Τουλούδη, Marc Charpentier.

10 Μαίου 2016 - 11 Ιουνίου 2016
Eleftheria Tseliou gallery, Αθηνα

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Architecture of the Barricade


In the 19th century, the "century of the barricade", building a barricade could bring down a state. Today, however, a barricade cannot rely solely on itself as-architecture, (or 'as-object') for the interruption of order and the creation of exceptional space.  Not only are battlegrounds and the lines that define them are increasingly blurred, but progressions in technology, control and surveillance mean that, with ease, state forces could destroy all that a traditional barricade could materially ‘stand’ for : by tank, by drone or by camera.

During the talk, we’ll explore the barricade as a disobedient object on the battleground of the city, going through barricade archetypes in terms of their architectural form and their urban strategy. I’ll try to show how the barricade has developed from ‘stopping’ or ‘blockading’ movement to moving in and of itself, how it's spatial quality has moved from the 'static' to the nomadic.

We’ll then look at how the barricade is as much about the bodies upon it as about the form it takes, or, the relationship between insurgent objects and insurgent subjects. I’ll try to show how, in the material sense, the insurgent uses the barricade as both offensive intervention and defensive protection, but also how, in the immaterial sense, the insurgent uses the barricade as both spectacular symbol and rhetorical device. I’ll try to show how subjects and objects come together as-barricade, and how in losing power as one or the other, they gain insurgent potential in the ambiguous space between the two.

We’ll hopefully see how the barricade is as much about what it is as about what it does, as much an object as it is an subject, as much a noun as it is a verb.

The Architecture of the Barricade - part of Anti University Now Festival
Facilitated by Charlotte Grace.

Saturday, June 11, 2016
Open School East - 43 De Beauvoir Road, London, N1 5SQ, United Kingdom




Timon of Athens - Moving Walls


Moving Walls, 2008
Acrylic, wood
350 cm x 200 cm x 100 cm

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Chronicle of an Affair




MARGRET S. (Margret – Chronicle of an Affair ), 1970/9/15, 1970 vintage print, 10.5 x 7.5 cm, Qbox Gallery

Margret – Chronicle of an Affair consists of a rediscovered compilation of photographs, typewritten personal notes and objects, documenting with precision the secret love affair, which lasted from May 1969 to December 1970, of the Cologne businessman Günter K. and his much younger secretary, Margret S. Günter’s obsession is evident in the hundreds of photographs he took of his mistress in sexy poses as well as in his preservation of the plushly furnished apartment above the company office which functioned as their love nest. Among the photographs are also images of her clothes, which he gave to Margret as presents or which she brought from home to please Günter, as well as charming photos of their little getaways. In addition to the photographs, he collected tickets, her pubic hair and pill packs – souvenirs of a manic, forbidden love.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Evidence of Absences

A show that exists but isn't there

In the term "unrealized" there is a space between the particle ‘un-’ and the verb: the projects that are donated to MoRE, which aims to archive, guard, disseminate and possibly relaunch said works, fall into a place of suspension, between surrender and waiting. Regardless of the cause, an unconcluded project lives in a undetermined condition: it exists but isn’t really there.
We tend to give a negative connotation to all that remains unfinished, unfulfilled, not built (even not said), because it reminds us of a loss in terms of opportunity, energy, of an object, an intangible asset, the loss of a value. A loss - a term used in physics, geography and technology, in medicine, in economics and the military - doesn’t necessarily entail a disaster, although it is very close to one. During the 80s, when Vito Acconci started to focus his attention on environmental and architectural projects, reaching extreme limits in his research on body and space, his ultimate goal was never its fulfilment. "I don’t even know if I can say that our goal was to build projects. If that was our goal, then we’ve clearly failed". In planning and the “unbuildable”, Acconci sees the possibility to re-examine not the past but the 'things that have yet to come'. It is as if, without the pressure to be successful at all costs, the energy invested in an unrealized project flows towards different directions leading to new ideas and outcomes.

Two artists I had invited to donate a project refused to do so. Their motives can be summarized as follows: not all projects contain a medium to high risk margin and the artist's tenacity is crucial; The artist ends up with a work and inferior ideas die in the process.
The strength of Vladimir Tatlin's Monument at the Third International (1920), lies in its being more than its actual existence, in the insights that the project contained - first and foremost that art should be informative - and in general in the Constructivist considerations on sculpture during the 60s (Carl Andre, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt), the architecture, the city (especially in the 80s), and finally the communication between members of the international community. We must therefore continue to regard unrealized projects as bearers of aesthetic values, as editable, able to be rethought and versatile. And especially in this day and age, shareable.

The Aeromodeller (1969-1971) conceived by Panamarenko was never launched: when on June 6 1971, the artist and a group of assistants began to fill the balloon with hydrogen gas, the goal was to fly the airship from the fields outside of Antwerp. The danger of an explosion from the highly inflammable gases was aggravated by the blustering wind and by the balloon's constant flipping broadside into the gale due to certain navigational limitations of the design. Fearing a full-on disaster, Panamarenko with a pair of scissors slashed into the balloon to release the dangerous gases. In this last example, the risk of not succeeding is very much part of the project and the non-operational nature of the artist's flight device can be read as part of its intended beauty.

Curated by Elena Lydia Scipioni
Artists: Mathis Collins, Maria Adele Del Vecchio, Ibro Hasanović, G. Küng, Sandro Mele, Kostis Velonis.
MoRE Museum- A museum of refused and unrealised art projects 

The Dome is Home--South Pole history 1975-90



Beyond Immaterialism: Parallels between Judeo Christian doctrine and Contemporary Art.


Human culture is shifting from material to immaterial. I am going to suggest that this is related to man's fear of nature. This fear, has got a pattern. It becomes more obvious in periods and areas with scarce resources or under strain. Less apparent in groups of people emerging from crisis. It manifests itself as an aversion to material objects. This text will try to explain how this phenomenon substantiates in the field of modern art and by comparing art with other faces of culture, will make a case that the art world is largely unaware of this condition.

Revolution against Nature

Let’s take a look into the Bible, the bestselling book of all time. What's groundbreaking about the bible is that it provides its readers with a new way of living. A way, rid of material pleasures and pains, a way more economical and efficient. A common pattern throughout the Old and New Testament is swapping the material with the immaterial. The material is usually represented as evil and the immaterial as good. The examples are many. In Genesis a world of plenty (Eden) is swapped with a world of scarcity. The source of temptation is an animal. From the very beginning there is an association of Nature with the unattainable, but also an association of nature with evil(snake). A counteract to man’s sense of futility upon confronting the natural world.

In Leviticus a manual for social operating (or God’s contract with Israel if you prefer), there is a list of animals that are considered unclean. In the Book Of Job, Leviathan, a crocodile (or hippo), represents the darkness of the physical world. In Jonah, one of the most popular tales, the hero is swallowed by a giant fish and surviving the encounter with the animal provides the supernatural core of the story.

And they shall no more offer their sacrifice unto devils… “

Leviticus 17:7

In this particular verse, “devils” is a translation of the Hebrew word sairrim which literally means wild goats.* In order to make the swap from material to immaterial more effective, the editors of the Bible (composing the Old Testament at around 400b.c.) borrowed a concept from the Persians. Good and evil.

“… the Persians had become the dominant nation in Asia, and Persian thought would be expected to be very influential among all nations which, like Judah, were under Persian rule. Persian religion had just been systematized by a great prophet, Zarathustra (Zoroaster), at about the time of the return from Babylonian captivity, and the earth rang, so to speak, with the new doctrine. Zoroastrianism offered a dualistic view of the universe. There was a principle of good, Ahura-Mazda (or Ormuzd), and a principle of evil, Ahriman, which were viewed as virtually independent of each other and very nearly equal.”**

The dualistic good-evil concept made life easier to explain and added an element of excitement and drama in storytelling. Nowhere before 1 Chronicles is Satan mentioned, but after that he regularly appears introducing worldly vices to various characters, including Jesus Christ.

Text by Teo Michael

Published on the June 2011 issue of online art magazine kaput.gr


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Open Chapel Model



Open Chapel,2016
(Based on Goeritz's “Capilla Abierta” Model), 1957 
Wood, corn flour

Open Chapel

Mathias Goeritz, Capilla abierta, Parque de las Estrellas, Jardines del Bosque
 1957-1958 

In the garden known as Parque de las Estrellas, Mathias Goeritz created the Open Chapel, a project where he once again brought together the ideals of spirituality and architecture. He conceived the idea of a space of visual contemplation connected to metaphysics, a space that was at once contained, container, and open. Bounded by four walls approximately seven meters in height that are not joined at the corners, visitors could enter from any of the four sides. Inside, in the center, the void is complete , an absence of all and presence of nothing, only the tectonics of the materials where the roof is replaced by the sky, as the fifth facade. This work displays the spiritual aims of Goeritz: entering into the sacred enclosure , the view is drawn upwards, towards creation, a tangible emotion, and isolation form the outside world. Unfortunately these intentions were lost altogether when the chapel was renovated. Architecture and ideals alike were radically transformed, and it is currently a civil registry office.


Text by Christian del Castillo, David Miranda

Friday, April 8, 2016

Print Drawers for an Anarchist Friend






Print Drawers for an Anarchist Friend 
(Plotino Rhodakanaty's Font), 2016 
Wood, mdf, acrylic, varnish
315 x 315 x 100 cm 

Goeritz entre dos obras idénticas



¿Qué tienen en común Brecht, Duchamp,  Alban Berg, Gropius, Klee, Moholy, Grosz, Kandinsky, Picasso, Kafka, Mann, Wiene, Chagall? ¿Y arquitectos y artistas mexicanos como O’Gorman, Barragán, Reyes, Friedeberg, Cuevas, Escobedo o Legorreta? Pocos artistas son justificados con tanta vehemencia a partir de las referencias de las que partió y también de aquellas que desató como Mathias Goeritz (Danzig, Prusia 4 de abril 1915 – ciudad de México 4 de agosto 1990). Explicamos El Eco con El Gabinete del Doctor Caligari o con las ruinas de Mitla, y las Torres de Ciudad Satélite con las de Gimignano o con la monumentalidad de Teotihuacán.

La figura del polifacético artista parece encadenada entre los que estuvieron antes y los que llegaron después, encerrado cronológicamente como un eslabón coherente y necesario en la Historia del Arte en México. Pero la historia es enemiga del artista. En la maleta con la que llegó a México, por septiembre de 1949, cabían indistintamente el Dadá, el Expresionismo o  la Bauhaus, todas las referencias servían, pero no todo valía. Como una antología andante (antes de ejercer de artista estudió Historia del Arte) utilizó las herramientas a su alcance para responder a un único objetivo: “Mi obra (…) es fundamentalmente de preocupación ética” (1). Interés común con el resto de las vanguardias y que será radicalmente opuesto a lo que estará por llegar. Para Goeritz, y para las vanguardias, la renovación del arte es una obligación ética antes que estética, pertenecían a ese mundo que por encima de cualquier resultado formal debía aspirar a una exigencia mayor y cuyo fin último era transformar la sociedad. Objetivo que compartía en México con sus rivales artísticos de la Escuela Mexicana, el arte oficial que representaban los muralistas; de ahí que podamos intuir que las polémicas con este grupo espoleaban al alemán en sus ideas y que de esta primera confrontación surgiera alguna de sus mejores obras.

por Alberto Oderiz

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Every Surface is a Blackboard




Every Surface is a Blackboard, 2016 
Wood, acrylic, plaster, plywood, MDF, chalks

122 x 35 x 6 cm

The Anglo-Hellenic Modernism Workshop



Three Propositions for a New Greek Sculpture (Daniil, Vlassis Caniaris, Nikos Kessanlis) theatre La Fenice Venice, 1964.

The Anglo-Hellenic Modernism Workshop will explore influences and confluences in English and Greek literary/artistic modernisms, also addressing questions of classical heritage, transnationalism, politics, modernisation and translation as well as the relationship of literature to the arts. Organised by Angeliki Spiropoulou.
Anglo -Hellenic Modernism Workshop, School of Advanced Study, Senate House, London.
Friday 8  April 2016 , 16:00-21:00,
Senate House, Room 234

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Congreso


Congreso, 2016
Wood, plywood, acrylic, oil
123 x 82 x 25 cm



La Osa Mayor


Mathias Goeritz, “La Osa Mayor”, La Ruta de la Amistad, Mexico City.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sun Shades



Mathias Goeritz's Wall at Camino Real Hotel, 1968

Monument for a Forgotten Education


Climbing the Wall, 2016
(Based on Goeritz's Wall at Camino Real Hotel, 1968)
Clay bricks, lemon
130 x 50 x 32 cm

(Behind)
Monument for a Forgotten Education, 2016
(Based on Goeritz's and Barragan's “Torres de Satélite”,1958)
Plywood, blackboard paint, chalk
150 x 90 x 116 cm

Satellite Towers

Federico Babina, “Satellite Tower” by Louis Barragan and Mathias Goeritz

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Part Company



Part Company, an exhibition by Greek artist Kostis Velonis in Casa Maauad, features a series of sculptures, paintings and a video created during the artists’ three-month residency in Mexico City. Velonis' work evokes contradictory ideas through the use of simple materials.

The artist approaches the history of 20th century sculpture through carefully designed responses in wood, plaster, brick and concrete. Part Company combines antithetical approaches to community living and social participation by two distinct figures of Mexican Modernism, Greek-Mexican activist Plotino Rhodakanaty (1828-1892) and Mexican artist of German origin Mathias Goeritz (1915-1990). The exhibition adapts models of public sculptures by Goeritz and is informed by research on Rhodakanatys’ political concepts. It explores a broader context around social class, politics of sculpture, architecture and design, encompassing rather than isolating these two separate ideologies.

"To Part Company" means to end an association or relationship at the same point in time, and suggests a persistent tendency to reconcile a separation. Here, it functions as a need for conceptual reform against disassociation and fragmented knowledge.

In Part Company, Velonis re-evaluates Goeritz's principle of “Emotional Architecture” formulated in 1954, which became the aesthetic basis of his work. The german aesthete defends the importance of the physical perception of space and the necessity for a sensual and tactile experience with the object. For Goeritz, the archetypal hero is the 'architect'. He believed the role of the artist is to reform and artificialize the natural, emphasizing three-dimensional, symbolical or inhabitable utopias.

Velonis revisits Emotional Architecture through today's de mythologizing of modern ideals by replacing Goeritz's metaphysics with earthly and vulnerable constructions that draws inspiration from a variety of discarded materials usually debris from the streets such as odd bits of wood in the city suburbs or scattered edifices in abandoned industrial and suburban areas. Similarly, Rhodakanaty's ideas on working class emancipation, a worn-out term of 19th century ideals, seems to be in need for an updated interpretation in the current postwar market.

In Part Company, Rhodakanaty's anonymous peasant acts as an invented persona that replaces the eponymous citizen identified through cultural supremacy whilst Goeritz's geometrical applications are reversed to serve social experimentation rather than elitism. The Greek Mexican anarchist may be urging us to re-think some of the modernist formalistic trends also encountered in today's contemporary art production. Understanding modernity's discourse through Goeritz's approach is an intriguing way to justify the rejection of memory (from collective to interpersonal relationships) and complements Rhodakanaty's ethics through which Goeritz cannot be restricted exclusively to the field of aesthetics, just as socialist narratives may not be solely perceived through a passive reception of a political message.

Part Company
March 17 - April 28, 2016
Thursday March 17, 7pm-10pm

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Maguey

 Leopoldo Méndez (1902-1969) Maguey, Imagen:8.7x12.4 cm. Papel: 13.4x18.7 cm

Monday, February 29, 2016

Help Desk

Help Desk, 2015
Wood, plywood, oil, varnish
200 x 61 x 78 cm

Comercial Ciudad Satelite

The Art of Administration: On Greg Barnhisel’s “Cold War Modernists”


Here is a list of some major players in Cold War Modernists, Greg Barnhisel’s fascinating and meticulously researched history of modernist art and literature’s role in Cold War diplomacy: the American Artists Professional League (AAPL); the American Federation of Arts (AFA); the Committee on Public Information (CPI); the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF); the International Information Administration (IIA); the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA); the United States Information Agency (USIA); the United States Information Service (USIS); and the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Nations, which, by way of a complicated transliteration, adopted the acronym VOKS.
Imagine all of the paperwork produced by one of these benignly titled groups: the mission statements and monthly summaries, official memos and interagency notices, budgets and projected spending reports. Then imagine the size of the file cabinet needed to house all of the documents for it and all of the governmental, quasi-governmental, and philanthropic organizations that dealt in foreign policy and cultural diplomacy between the rise of the Iron Curtain and the fall of the Berlin Wall (or, to take the slightly more manageable time frame at the heart of Cold War Modernists, between the Truman and Kennedy administrations). This will give a sense of the archive from which Barnhisel culls his study. And now imagine the time and patience it would require to find, request, and read this material, and make it say something about the fate of modernist literature and art after their initial spark in the 1910s and 1920s.

Text by Donal Harris


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Quando acidentes se tornam formas


Marcelo Cidades
Quando acidentes se tornam formas, 2016
installation view at Múrias Centeno, Lisboa
20 Jan 2016 - 27 Feb 2016

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The strangest objects we’ve left on the Moon


This family portrait deposited by Apollo 16’s Charles Duke still lies where it was left, but is probably now completely bleached

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20160219-the-strangest-objects-weve-left-on-the-moon

Η Αριστερή Ιδεολογία στην Πολεοδομία στην Ελλάδα, από το 1960 ως το 1990




Κειμ. Γεώργιος Σαρηγιάννης

How Many Dahlias till We Die


How Many Dahlias till We Die?, 2016
20 x 20 cm
Inject print on archive paper 

Mathias Goeritz and the Hegemonic Impulse


Long respected as something of a Mexican national treasure, the German-born, naturalized-Mexican artist Mathias Goeritz is at the time of the writing of this text the recipient of significant international attention, thanks largely to his retrospective, “The Return of the Snake,” at the Reina Sofia, which ran from November 2014 to April 2015 in Madrid. This traveling retrospective, which just opened at the Palacio de Iturbide in Mexico City and will thereafter travel to the Museo Amparo in Puebla, Mexico, offers a unique and valuable opportunity to appreciate and evaluate the overall output and ongoing impact of this complex, highly controversial and protean figure, especially within the context of postwar modernities. Perhaps more importantly, it offers the opportunity to not only consider his work then and now, but also the similarities between his epoch and our current one, as well as some of the issues at stake in each moment.


Mathias Goeritz, Museo El Eco (1952-53

Probably most famous for inventing the term “emotional architecture” (which is in fact, something of an architectural hapax legomenon), Goeritz was born in Danzig, Germany (today Gdansk, Poland) in 1915, and after a stint in both North Africa and then Spain, moved to Guadalajara in 1949 and then to Mexico City, where he lived until his death in 1990. An art historian, sculptor, and painter, he came up with the term and corresponding manifesto “emotional architecture” at the inauguration of the Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City in 1953, which he designed (also the city’s first museum of modern art). Devoid of so much as a single right angle, this singular piece of architecture, which resembles a cross between a set from Expressionist German cinema and a De Chirico painting, was conceived in response to what Goeritz saw as the stultifying effects of the rationalization of international style in modern architecture. Having arrived in a post-revolutionary, heavily pro-nationalist atmosphere steeped in the social realism of the muralists, Goeritz’s many innovations, ranging from non-figurative or abstract sculpture to monochrome painting, represented a kind of taboo cosmopolitanism, and for some figures even represented a damnable complicity with capitalist imperialism. As such, he and his work were severely criticized and in some cases rejected, and he was ultimately undermined (for instance, in a well-known incident of public opposition, when Goeritz was named museógrafo at the Universidad Nacional de Mexico in 1954, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera published a letter of protest in the newspaper Excelsior demanding the repeal of his position, which was actually met with success).
As such, it is difficult to call them monochromes in the sense that is now generally associated with the monochrome, which is more about its own materiality and color than a means to an end, which in the Mensajes is light and spirituality, and even more to the point, god (In hopes of underlining the work’s relationship with light, Goeritz created dramatic strategies of exhibition in which the Mensajes were, for example, lit only by candlelight). According to Garza Usabiaga, Goeritz was critical of the so-called realism of some currents such as the Nouveaux Réalistes in France, in the sense that their work merely replicated and perpetuated the chaos of everyday life. “To counter this type of practices [sic], Goeritz championed an art of stable referents, and as he said, God was the most stable of all. […] Light is a perfect way to represent this religious referent. The monochrome works in the same way. As the zero-degree of representation, it is a symbol of ‘the whole and of nothing.’(2) Almost ironically, once abstraction and the monochrome later became accepted in Mexico – and largely thanks to his efforts – Goeritz himself became critical of their apparent status as mere merchandise.


Mathias Goeritz, Mensaje, circa 1959, goldleaf on wood, 53 1/8 x 48 in / 135 x 122

It is for these reasons that when all is said and done – and this is admittedly a radically ham-fisted simplification of a very complex historical conflict – one can finally recognize similarities of agendas between the muralists and Goeritz. In the truly dogmatic spirit of the European avant-garde, and whatever their relationship to the production of objects might have been, they both essentially saw art as a means to an end, which was as pedagogical as it was ideological, and which zealously promoted, or rather proselytized a “correct” way of life. They respectively fought for a hegemonic position, as it was natural for an vanguard artist at the time, at the natural exclusion and ideal suppression of all the others. Therein lies what is possibly the greatest “evil” of not only modernity, but even contemporary art (unfortunately, this intolerant, anti-pluralistic, winner-take-all mentality is still very entrenched in certain parts of contemporary practice). Artistic manifesto positions of the time can be seen from our times as essentially retrograde and conspicuously reminiscent of religious fundamentalism, as they always sought to establish an aesthetic orthodoxy, which itself inevitably led to conservatism (we know now that orthodoxy must always be protected from the unorthodox and protected from heterodoxy). But here’s the good news: The conservative and retrogressive always loses, historically speaking.  For better or for worse, this is an immutable law of (art) history, and if there is any lost cause in the history of art, it is the repression or retardation of change –  which, it just so happens is often enforced by either the academy or totalitarian states. Of course, for any art professional who is truly committed to what they are doing, the hegemonic temptation, retrograde in of itself, is always there, but this is the temptation that must be resisted.

Text by Chris Sharp

Notes:
(1) Mathias Goeritz, La Arquitectura Emocional: Una Revisión Crítica (1952-1968), published by Conaculta, INBA, and la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León.
  1. Ibid, p. 385

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Mira Viejo


ERA (Alfredo Zalce), Mira Viejo. From Fantoche III, no.28, July 12,1929.

Hotel Camino Real



Built for the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, The Camino Real Hotel not only not only challenged the conventional standards of modern hotel design and but consolidated Legorreta’s own characteristic architectural style, but became a parallel modern art museum of sorts, a building that perfectly embodied the optimism, creative effervescence and aesthetic ambitions of Mexico in the sixties.
The proposal offers an immersive reconstruction; a journey through different periods, characters and key moments in the history of the hotel, taking the original collaborations with artists and designers such as Alexander Calder, Anni Albers, Lance Wyman, Mathias Goeritz, Pedro Friedeberg, Armando Salas Portugal and Julius Shulman.

Through historic photographs and documents, reproductions, original furniture and a 1:75 scale model of the hotel commissioned for the exhibition and created by Legorreta’s original model maker, as well as contemporary approaches by artists like Mario García Torres and Lake Verea, ARCHIVO(S) Hotel Camino Real attempts to rescue the original spirit of the project and document the transformations the building has gone through in recent decades.The ARCHIVO(S) series presents a new approach to iconic projects of modern architecture in Mexico, working on original archive materials in an open dialogue with artists, designers and curators. Archivo will collaborate with leading figures of contemporary culture to rebuild a new architectural memory around landmarks of Mexican modernism, through exhibition formats, public activations, reproductions of historical materials, interventions and original design pieces.
A proposal by Pablo León de la Barra, based on the project by Ricardo Legorreta
With collaborations by
Mathias Goeritz, Luis Barragán, Alexander Calder, Anni Albers, Pedro Friedeberg,Lance Wyman, Armando Salas Portugal, Julius Shulman,Sam Peckinpah,Lily Nieto,Alberto Vivar,Carla Fernández,Lake Verea, Claudia Fernández, Mario García Torres, Christoph Draeger

Archivo(s)
Hotel Camino Real
February 4 – May 27 2016





Thursday, February 11, 2016

City Woven by Amnesiacs


A few years later, in another part of the city, Barragán became involved with another subdivision. Backed by former President Alemán and other powerful investors, the Satellite City was the project of Mario Pani.24 Begun in 1954, this covered over 2,000 acres and was intended to house some 200,000 people. It was obviously much less exclusive than El Pedregal, but still decidedly middle class and automotive in orientation. Fresh off his success at El Pedregal, Barragán was invited to design a promotional symbol for the project. He in turn invited his friend, the German émigré artist Mathias Goeritz, to collaborate. The Towers of the Satellite City were designed and built in 1957-1958.25

Drawing on the Charter of Athens and on then-recent satellite projects in Europe, Pani's Satellite City was one of many housing developments built at that time to ease Mexico City's growing pains. It was located alongside the city's main northbound highway, fourteen kilometers northwest of the Zócalo. According to Pani, the Satellite City when completed would be “absolutely self-sufficient.... a truly autonomous urban entity.”26 Its various sectors and super-blocks were carefully zoned to provide areas for habitation, recreation, education, civic and commercial functions, and parking and transportation. If these last took up a seemingly disproportionate share of the development's space, Pani said it was because this was “the epoch of the automobile,” and the Satellite City was “a city of the epoch.” He called it “a truly modern city... a city of the future, a city of tomorrow that we are beginning to build today.”27 In all of this the project was comparable to the University City, but if its functions were more genuinely diverse, its architectural forms were notably more homogeneous. According to one observer of the 1980s: Probably no section of the capital seems less identifiably Mexican than the endless sprawling neighborhoods of characterless middle-class homes in Satellite City to the north. The zone is a monument both to the middle-class Mexican's desire to own his home and to his fascination with the American way of life. Beside the multi-lane highways are huge shopping malls that are reachable only by car. The architecture of most houses could be described as modern utilitarian, although wealthier families have followed the American example of building homes around the golf courses and private clubs. 28



The towers designed by Barragán and Goeritz stand on a traffic island at the development's southern edge, surrounded by twelve lanes of blacktop. They are five in number and wedged-shaped, with their sharpest angles pointing back toward the city center. Made of reinforced concrete, hollow inside, they rise from a flat concrete-paved plaza, from 34 to 54 meters high, but as their site slopes downward toward the city, they might seem taller when approached from the south. Originally they were to have been much taller, as high as 200 to 300 meters, and accompanied by two additional towers. One was to have been used as an observatory, the others as water tanks. The ground was to be terraced and landscaped with steps, lawns, and a fountain or reflecting pool; the design was scaled back for economic reasons. According to the original scheme, two were left neutral in color and three were painted with plastic paints: one red, one yellow, one blue. Collectively they look like a somewhat miniaturized skyscraper city, or a vastly over-sized model of one, but either way they read as evident representations of buildings rather than buildings themselves. They share this aspect—the representation of modern urban architecture—with O'Gorman's painted Ciudad de México, but there the comparison ends. Where O'Gorman placed at the center of his painting a wide boulevard filled with people and cars, the Towers of the Satellite City present a peculiarly lifeless and abstract face. The space immediately around them is almost always empty. They are a quiet and all-but inaccessible center hemmed in by billboards and speeding cars, not a distinct place so much as a sign or symbol of something beyond themselves.



According to Pani, the towers stood for “man's untamable urge to transcend to great things...the spirit and the dignity of human works.”29 Goeritz called them a “plastic prayer.”30 More prosaically, they were advertisements. At El Pedregal Barragán had demonstrated his ability to turn otherwise undesirable land into valuable real estate and this, along with his friendship with Alemán, seems to have been the main reason for his having been invited to participate here. The towers—unavoidable elements of verticality and dash in an otherwise almost unrelentingly flat, monotonous landscape—beckoned would-be exurbanites to come, to stop and to imagine the possibilities of life in a newer, cleaner, safer, more exclusive “city outside the city.” They were, in effect, advertisements for urban flight.
In the chapter on "critical regionalism" in his book, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, Kenneth Frampton illustrated the work of Barragán with just one image: the Towers of the Satellite City.31 One would be hard-pressed to find a less regionalistic, less inherently Mexican design in Barragán's oeuvre. The towers grew from earlier projects by Goeritz which were themselves inspired by the medieval towers of San Gimignano, Italy, and by the modern ones of Manhattan. Barragán contributed his fascination for the haunting plazas of Italian painter Giorgio De Chirico, and his interest in Corbusian tower blocks.32 At El Pedregal he had showcased the native landscape; he echoed it there in the rambling, abstract, cubic forms of the houses that he built on his own and with Max Cetto. Patios, open-beamed ceilings, and rough stone walls referred discreetly to the site and to Mexican architecture of the colonial past. None of this sort of historical or geographical situating enters into the Satellite City project. Its five faceless concrete towers could be almost anywhere, anytime. What they evoke is not so much the dynamism of the modern city but an obscure reminiscence of a city of the past, or many cities, seen through the filter of memory and the flickering of the mind's eye. They are, say, New York in the 1920s, when Barragán saw it for the first time. They are the city left behind.
Nostalgia,” said Barragán, “is the poetic awareness of our personal past, and since the artist's own past is the mainspring of his creative potential, the architect must listen and heed his nostalgic revelations."33 With the Towers of the Satellite City there is no longer that sense of history—of specific shared experience, of justified violence, hard work, and future promise—that fueled O'Gorman's painting. There is instead a vague nostalgia: history with all pain (save the poetic variety) removed; in other words, a kind of forgetting, a flight from the tough truths of present and past, and a failure to imagine—or a disinterest in engaging— the future.34 Approaching the towers from the south, seeing them in all of their miniaturized mock urban splendor, one might not be amiss in thinking of another towered structure of the 1950s: Snow White's palace at Disneyland near Los Angeles. Both are castles in the air, icons of escape from cities growing recklessly.

This is an excerpt from the text "Settings for History and Oblivion in Modern Mexico, 1942-58," by Keith L. Eggener in : Jean-Francois Lejeune (ed.), Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America, Princeton Architectural Press, New York 2003

Notes
25. Trained at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, Pani was lead planner at the University City, and designer of numerous prominent office buildings, schools, city plans, hotels, and public housing projects. See Louise Noelle Merles, “The Architecture and Urbanism of Mario Pani,” in Edward Burian, pp. 177-89; and Mario Pani: la visión urbana de la arquitectura (México D.F.: UNAM, 2000).
26. G. Nesbit, “The Towers of Satellite City,” Arts and Architecture 75 (May 1958): 22-23; and Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani, “Luis Barragán: Urban Design and Speculation,” in Federica Zanco, ed., Luis Barragán: The Quiet Revolution, pp. 158-59, 252.
27.Mario Pani, “México: Un Problema, Una Solución,” Arquitectura México 60 (December 1957): 217.
28.Ibidem: 222, 225
29. Alan Riding, Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans (New York: Vintage Books, 1986), pp. 388-89.
30.Mario Pani, “México: Un Problema, Una Solución”: 225.
31.Federico Morais, Mathias Goeritz (México, D.F.: UNAM, 1982), p. 37.
32.Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1992), pp. 318-20.
33.Luis Barragán, "Cómo Deben Desarrollarse las Grandes Ciudades Modernas: El Creciemiento de la C. de México," Zócolo no. 3,123 (12 Oct. 1959): sec. 4, p. 1. On his interest in De Chirico see Eggener, pp. 77-81.
34. Luis Barragán, “Barragán on Barragán”: 31.